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My Modified Bulgarian Program


First off, I know in the past there have been a number of threads asking how to apply Abadjiev's principles to powerlifting, so please keep the flaming to yourself.

Anyways I'm currently running Sheiko(#37) and have contemplated switching to something with less volume but higher intensity. I've studied and read the many articles written on Ivan and the main principle behind his training program. As such I've come up with my own modified version of it that will be done 3x a week since I'm currently going to school. The volume, intensity, sets/reps will all be in accordance to Prilepin's Chart. Without further ado, here it is


Squat-Work up to daily max followed by back off sets for singles, 2-3 sets at 90% of max
5-6 minute break
Bench-Same as squat
Accessory work-Some light face pulls/band pull aparts to balance bench

Deadlift-Work Up to daily max followed by back off sets for singles at 90%
5-6 minute break
Bench-Work up to 90% of Monday's max for singles for 2-3 sets.
Accessory work

Squat-Work up to 95% of Monday's max for singles, 2-3 sets.
5-6 minute break
Bench-Same as squat
Accessory Work

As you can see its still pretty rudimentary at the moment. Thoughts, suggestions, criticisms are all welcome


Seems like a disaster to me. Lifting only 3x a week and always doing singles? Ivan's whole system is premised on training every single day, far more and for much longer each day than what you have outlined above, so always ramping up to singles may still provide a lot of volume over the course of the week. Unless you're doing an insane amount of volume for the main lifts as your "accessory work" I can't see this being very effective.


You're going to run into problems stressing your CNS doing this week to week at 90% plus. If you are looking to increase your intensity and shorten your workouts I would suggest conjugate periodization or something similar.

Good forum post here that gets to the point.


To add, you do not need any bands or chains to do any of this. If your speed work feels light with straight weight, up the percentage a bit till you feel it is working. You should start dreading the last few sets, but keep your speed up. Personally I don't shy away from my speed work being too heavy (70-80% range with straight weight.) It is talked about that you don't want your bar speed to be too slow, but I find that if I work at weights were I tend to get slower (70-80%) and make them faster, I get faster pushing near max or max weight.


Hey man, in response to your first post I think it's a very interesting concept and a quality regimen that you've put together.
As the first poster said Ibadjaev did have his lifters perform up to 8 workouts a week, but this was after years of allowing their bodies to "adapt" to the workload he required of them. As for CNS fatigue, he had his lifters front and back squat in each of these workouts, generally they were 30 minute sessions for each exercise; so I have doubts about that being an actual problem.
If you're serious about performing this I'd read up on as much information on the system as you can. Also look up the Bulgarian MTR matrix; it'll help bring some science into the ideal that its just simply "maxing every workout".
Good luck and please post your results as you progress.


You should remember that if running bulgarian system, you should not use any pre-workouts and the "max" is the daily max, you only lift the weight you feel you are capable. You don't hit any PR's, maybe one here and there, but you don't chase always the PR.


I'll be the devil's advocate and say I think it could help with your strength. With the one exception that it's done for the short term (2-4 weeks?) and that it depends on how your back off sets go, which will depend on how good your intuition has become.

I think those 2-3 sets after your daily max should NOT be singles, if that was your intention. Back off and do doubles and triples.

I would bench Mon/Fri working up to a daily max with back off sets and then on Wednesday do either a bench variation (close, floor, reverse, DE day) or just a change up in the intensity, volume, and tempo.

If you're going to go with this, screw setting a percentage on Friday and just do another daily max type of day.

Given that you were doing a Sheiko routine, hopefully you should know what feels good for your body (I think #37 sucks tho.....intensity is too low). Just because you don't hit a PR at the end of something doesn't mean it wasn't beneficial to you and your body. Think of the bigger picture and how you could program after this as well.

It's also important, you know, to actually try something to learn about it....pretty sure all the great lifters fucked up in their career some time. Chalk it up to a good experience and take what you can learn from it.


I'm not so sure CNS burnout will be a problem, at least for the squat. Benching 3x a week maybe. But if the Bulgarians, Broz and others have shown anything, it's that the body can eventually adapt to tremendous amounts of stress. Louie Simmons always writes that you need to change the exercises to avoid CNS burnout, but I'm more convinced that the conjugate system's benefits in regards to CNS management has to do with the new variation each week keeping you more at a training max than a true 1RM. Lift up to a daily max as others noted above and I don't think your CNS will kill you on the program.

It's not just 8 training sessions a week, from everything I've read those guys were training everyday, with as many as 6 training sessions per day, and banging out two max effort training sessions with just 30 minutes of rest between. They lifted so often that it didn't matter they were always working up to singles, the volume was still insane. Now they built up this capacity over time, but remember this build up started when they were very young.

The last thing to keep in mind is the type of person it took to succeed under the Bulgarian system. They took only the most gifted -- those who had the ideal body types and strength at a young age. Even then, with all other aspects of their life taken care of (food, house, work, etc.), with tons of rest and sleep each day, most burnt out and only a few made it. And it's safe to say at this point that they all had access to more PEDs than Ryan Braun and Barry Bonds combined.

I'm not saying a system based on the Bulgarian method can't work, but I don't think it would be very successful training 3x a week and basing your system off the Bulgarian idea of always maxing out.


Thanks for the input guys. Like I said before, the program is still very basic and still needs modification before I can embark on it.

Eric Talmant currently uses a modified Bulgarian program done 3x a week. He has shared some ideas about the program and I've more or less added them into the regimen in the OP. However, he has not told me everything about it and I'm forbidden(by Eric) from telling anyone here the details he's discussed with me.

As far as using conjugate periodization, I have done so in the past but it helped the classical lifts very little even though I was using exercises beneficial to the raw lifter like deficit pulls, cambered bar board presses, front squats etc. I respond better to high frequency of the main lifts though that's not to say I'm ruling out the use of variants.

As far as loading is concerned I'm going to follow Abadjiev's wave of three weeks max(90%+) with a lighter week(80-85%) and using a reverse scheme of three light weeks followed by a max week.

Like I said, the program is still in the works and as such I'd like to hear opinions and suggestions on here


I think the volume is too low.
The (back off) work sets after the ramp to your daily max is where the progress comes from.
The more you can handle there, the better the progress will be.
A couple singles at 90% of the daily max is not gonna cut it to make decent progress.
As it is now, it could be a useful way to peak though.


In regards to Wednesday's training I'd think I'd be better off doing speed pulls and possibly a variation for the bench(i.e. incline, close grip,etc) or DE as well.


So more sets on the back offs? Say doubles for four to five sets at 90% or would that be overdoing it? I'd like it to fall within the guidelines of Prilepin's.


if you want more frequency and want to do a proven program run sheiko.


Why not heavy doubles or triples one day, and something like 5x5 another day as the "backoffs" (probably better to look at this as a supplemental lift). Hit your higher rep stuff on accessory work -- maybe even things like DB presses and bulgarian SSs on accessory work to get some RE work for the main movers in the BP/squat/DL. This still falls within Prillepin's chart, but you're going to need to get something that falls within somewhere other than the 90%+ range on that chart if training 3x a week, at least in my opinon based on the reasoning stated above.


Dimitykloklov fan, straight up do not listen to the responses in this thread.

"it wont work, over training, not enough."

I personally run a modified Bulgarian program. I am currently at 5 x week. I do not discuss my split personally because it was designed by a weightlifting coach.

I will say that I work up to a TRUE max every time I step into the gym. I bench many times a week (a lot more than people would suggest) and doing so (maxing out on the different bench variations multiple times a week) has brought my max from low 300 to mid 400 in months I also squat and pull several x a week and have progressed significantly in both of those lifts.

I only total in the 1700s as low 200lb lifter but have seen much success with the bulgarian method.

I recommend you start your days off as just Squat-bench (day1) Bench-DL (day 2) and continue those until you are ready for 4x week. This way one week you bench 3x squat 2x pull 1x. The next week you bench 3x squat 1x and pull 2x.

Make sure your technique is perfect, which im hoping it is close to from running sheiko. If done correctly this method is far superior to others imo.



Ivans method was also designed for oly lifting which does not have a heavy eccentric. You have to let your body adapt, you cant just jump into the 6x week template. You start at 3 and slowly move up. There is a period of 2-3 weeks during the 3xweek phase that the lifters body either completely rejects the format or incredibly adapts and you literally go months of PRing EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU STEP INTO THE GYM.


LOL@ no pre-workouts, its more that Ivan believes if you get super psyched up in training lifts you lose the possible 10% training increase one gains in competition as an elite lifter.

And it is not so much a "daily max" as an "training max."

For the Bulgarian method as well as Sheiko or Russian power there is a DISTINCT difference between TRAINING and COMPETITION maxes. I can total 1800 tomorrow, 700 400 700, but if my gym maxes are 650 385 675 I base my TRAINING lifts off progression with the 650/385/675


The 90% drop set for singles or doubles is usually only done during the first month OR if the lifter fails his max out attempt.


Firstly, Ivan did not directly advocate not using preworkouts. He himself was an avid user of ammonia (smelling salts) watch any documentary of him and he consistently has the stuff in his hands sniffing it and closing it back up. You should amp up the frequency and work up to a true max everyday.

If anyone has every used a smelling salt I would definitely place it in the category of a pre-workout, it may not necessarily have longevity of say a caffeinated supplement like Jack3D, but it certainly gets you pumped up for the lift.

As for high volume work or high rep back off sets, with the stress you're placing on your body by working up to a true max and hitting it nearly everyday in the gym, I think it can only divert crucial and essential nutrients that your body needs to recover from the previous and impending workouts.

If you want to use the Bulgarian method it's not for muscle building, it's for pure explosive strength. Your totals will go up, mine have been consistently rising, but they will stay stagnant if you mix and match workouts and add in tons of extra auxiliary lifts.

If you read up on Ibadjaev's work he only had about 12 lifts that he would have his lifters perform, and each extra lift was actually just a variation of the main lift, i.e.(cleanss from box, jerks from box, pause squats, pin squats.. things of this nature)


I said it before on here somewhere but doing some variation of going to a daily max is NOT really Ivan's "method".
If you are to believe Brozknows/AverageBroz (I don't see why not on this issue), the KEY to the Bulgarian method was that it was ridiculously brutal training 3x/day, 6-7days/week.
Sure it was at very high percentages of one's max, but the key to his success was that he had his lifter do it so often and at a high volume.

Also, imo there is nothing "clever/smart" about the method. Just a brutal trial-by-fire approach to strength training.
Furthermore, Brozknows mentioned that nobody got used/adjusted to the actual "Bulgarian approach". Those who did it back in the day felt like death all the time (keyword: "dark times"), even with the use of AAS/PEDs.
My point: don't handwavingly refer to Ivan's approach when you utilize some form of daily maxes in your training.

My advice: For using the daily max approach follow BrozKnows set/rep scheme or the very similar approach of Norton's Squat Nemesis. It has the daily max in them + enough back-off volume that I mentioned earlier.


First off, the "ridiculously brutal training 3x per day" was actually 30 minute sessions dedicated to each of the lifts. The front squat, the clean & jerk, the snatch, and the back squat. Generally the lifters performed them in that order for a morning session and a P.M. session.

Furthermore, Ibadjaev has been quoted saying the body can and will adjust to this sort of trauma to the nervous system. Whatever BrozKnowz is saying, while applicable and credible, is like prioritizing a secondary source over THE PRIMARY SOURCE for the system.

Whilst you can claim PEDs and AADs all you'd like, the bulgarian system was not the only system utilizing the drugs at the time and even though many of their lifters were caught for the drugs, t assume that PEDs and AADs are the only reason these lifters were able to survive this system is ludicrous.

Secondly, working up to a daily max is the basis of Ivan's method....